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ISU hopes for new lab schools and engineering home, renovations of other buildings

NORMAL (WJBC) – Illinois State University’s wish list of capital projects includes replacing its two lab schools and building a home for its engineering school.

According to our news partner WJBC, the University’s Board of Trustees on Friday will hear about plans to replace University High School at a cost of $63 million and the Thomas Metcalf School for kindergarten through eighth grade to a tune of $57 million.

U-High “is outdated and aging, and the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire alarm systems are in need of replacement. Its geographic location on the campus is problematic with poor vehicular access to the building and less than adequate outdoor space,” administrators said in a report to the trustees.

“This project provides for the construction of a modern laboratory school to meet the 21st century requirements,” the report also said.

U-High was built 54 years ago in the 600 block of Gregory Street in Normal and is considered outdated, according to a staff report. Similar reasons are cited for replacing Metcalf School on University Street, which was built in 1955.

The price tag for a new engineering building is $100 million and would house ISU’s mechanical and electrical engineering programs.  Staff believes the project helps stabilize enrollment and encourages students to stay in Illinois to study engineering.

“It also addresses workforce needs in the state by training more engineers who will be employed in Illinois following graduation, the administrators’ report said.

ISU also wants a new building for the Mennonite College of Nursing for $60 million.

Administrators said in their report, “The new facility will be designed to meet current needs and future growth. This space will include consolidation of campus facilities, offices for College faculty and staff, meeting rooms, conference rooms, and a variety of teaching classrooms that are special to the needs of the nursing program. The building will be sited to best address the specific goals and requirements of the program, which not only include instruction but also the clinical health care industry relationships.”

The university proposes an $85 million renovation of Willliams Hall, which was ISU’s library when it was built in 1940.  ISU also plans to refurbish DeGarmo Hall for 38 million dollars.  DeGarmo is 47 years old, and houses the College of Education and the Psychology Department.

The projects are part of ISU’s $435.4 million capital request to the Illinois Board of Higher Education for the 2021 fiscal year.

Jason Howell

web producer and stills photographer for 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC

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